The brutality resulting from the war led

The early twentieth century was a very productive
period for the generation of new literary- critical ideas. With the turn of
century, traditional forms of literature were eroded and succeeded by new ones
as writers sought fresher ways of expressing themselves. Literature is defined
as books and other written works such as novels, plays and poems, especially
those with a creative and artistic merit. Western literature can be categorized
into three big periods: the premodern, modern and postmodern times.  Some thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Darwin
and Karl Marx profoundly changed western culture through their contribution in
developing art and literature. During the start of the 20th century,
the west not only witnessed political changes, but also social, cultural and
economic change. Industrial revolution which had started in England rapidly
spread all over the continent. These changes led to a shift in science and
philosophical outlook. The 19th century served as a precursor in the
development of literature.

The period preceding World War 1 left
its imprints upon books of all kind. The extreme brutality resulting from the
war led to an outcry which inspired literature concerning its conduct and
effect by war poets. This period inspired lots of fiction and poetry. Fiction
works such as Marcel Proust’s “remembrance
of things first”, “Magic Mountain”
by Thomas Mann produced in 1924 and Ulysses
by James Joyce illustrates the awakening of a new consciousness after World War
1. Drama was not a major representation of artwork during the 19th century
until the 20th century when Americans traveling in Europe came across a vital,
flourishing theatre. This eye opener led to them returning home to spread and
develop the art form they had encountered. The little theatre movement is one
initiative started by the westerners. Free from commercial limitations, play
writers tried out various dramatic forms and methods of production. The
resulting works displayed creativity and maturity. Technological advancement in
the 20th century resulted in low cost of producing books thereby
leading to an increase in the production of popular literature. Additionally,
the emergence of the World Wide Web and hypertext paved way for the development
of electronic literature. Some of the finest literature works of the 20th century
include the lord of the rings, Harry potter and the philosopher stone
and And then there was none.

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Andre Breton wrote the first formal
statement of the movement which called for spontaneity in literature. His
statement titled Manifeste du surrealism/Manifesto
of surrealism showed the influence Sigmund Freud had in its emphasis on dreams
and other antilogical methods. Numerous literary schools rose up against the
practice of realism/naturalism which was dominant during the late 19th
century and early 20th century. Modernist literature which arose
from a conscious desire to overturn traditional modes of representation began
with works such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart
of Darkness in 1902 and Alfred Jarry’s Absurdity
play from 1873-1903. Winesburg Ohio
by Sherwood Anderson represents an early work of modernism for its emphasis on
psychological insight into characters and plain spoken prose form. The writers
took into account the changing ideas about reality previously developed by
Darwin, Mach and Neitzsche which led them to come up with innovative literary
techniques such as the use of multiple points of view, interior monologue and a
stream of consciousness.

 The period after World War 2 led to the
emergence of postmodern literature which is characterized by narration
techniques such as the use of paradox and fragmentation. Some techniques of
literature which indicate postmodern writing include; the use of irony,
intertextuality, pastiche and metafication. Pastiche is the combining of
multiple elements to create a unique narrative while metafication is a form of
fictional writing that analyzes a work of fiction. Postmodern literature is
widely regarded as a response against the dogmatic following of Modernist
approach to literature. Some well-known examples of postmodern literature
include The Cannibal (Hawkes, 1939)
and the third policeman (O’Brien,
1941). The early 20th century led to the emergence of expressionism which
is a form of art that sought to present a subjective view. Expressionism was more
successful in portraying drama though it incorporates the use of fiction and
poetry. In depicting drama, the plot details are compressed and scenes are
connected by ideas, not by the continuity of action.

The 20th century influenced
and led to the emergence of numerous art forms in Western Europe. The Theatre
of the Absurd was a movement that emerged post World War 2 which incorporated
two literature techniques namely surrealism and expressionism. This style
focuses on expressing what happens when human existence has no purpose. An
Irish born French Novelist Samuel Beckett was a prominent play righter of this
genre of literature. Two of his masterpieces include Waiting for Godot and
Endgame.  His contribution to literature
led him to be recognized and awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969. Other notable
contributors to this literature style include Jean Genet from France and Arthur
Adamov of Russia.

Reference

Burns,
Edward McNall. Western civilizations: their history and their culture.
WW Norton, 1949.

Carroll,
Joseph. Literary Darwinism: Evolution, human nature, and literature.
Routledge, 2004.

Foucault,
M. “The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language/M.” Foucault–New
York: Pantheon Books (1972).